Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Prosodic Strengthening in American English Domain-initial Vowels

Heike Lehnert-LeHouillier (1), Joyce McDonough (1), Stephen McAleavey (2)

(1) Department of Linguistics, University of Rochester, USA
(2) Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, USA

Previous studies investigating domain-initial prosodic strengthening have shown that consonants undergo cumulative strengthening at the beginning of prosodic domains. However, evidence for articulatory strengthening of domain-initial vowels is sparse [1], [2]. At least two possible hypotheses exist why vowels fail to show domain-initial strengthening: a) Domain-initial strengthening only targets syllable onsets, but not nuclei (structural explanation), and b) Domain-initial strengthening targets the initial segment in the domain, regardless of whether this segment is a consonant or a vowel (local explanation). The current study tries to distinguish between these two hypotheses by investigating the magnitude of the articulatory gestures for the English vowels [ɛ] and [ɔ] produced in consonant (CVC) and vowel-initial (VC) syllables in three different prosodic environments (IP, AP, and Wd) using ultrasound. Our results show that domain-initial strengthening is highly local and does affect vowels as well as consonants.

Index Terms: domain-initial strengthening, speech production, American English


  1. Fougeron, C. and Keating, A. P., “Articulatory strengthening at the edges of prosodic domains”, JASA, 101(6):3728–3740, 1997.
  2. Cho, T.,“Prosodic strengthening and featural enhancement: Evidence from acoustic and articulatory realizations of /ɑ, i/ in English”, JASA, 117 (6):3867-3878, 2005.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lehnert-LeHouillier, Heike / McDonough, Joyce / McAleavey, Stephen (2010): "Prosodic strengthening in American English domain-initial vowels", In SP-2010, paper 082.